Psalm 138: Thanksgiving and Praise – of David
1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down towards your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
3 On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.[b]
4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5 They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
When Susan James at KAIROS asked me if I would offer a Spirited Reflection as I finished my 6 year term representing the United Church of Canada on the KAIROS Steering Committee (formerly Board), I was eager to do it. When she offered June 10th, I knew I was called.
June 10th, 1925 is the birth date of the United Church of Canada (UCC), whose motto is to be united and uniting. As Patti Talbot said to me one day, ecumenism is our charism. The impulses to form the United Church were diverse, as was its history. It inherited and promulgated the actions of its predecessor denominations in the Residential schools of this country. We’ve missed opportunities to respond to God’s call in every generation and we are far from perfect. And many things have been wonderful in our history. We were the first church to apologize to Indigenous Canadians in 1986 and I was there! We may differ from other KAIROS churches on the theological underpinnings of some of our decisions, but most would laud our efforts at including women and members of the Queer communities into our life. We have taken stands on Apartheid, Palestine-Israel, and much more. The truth is our denomination’s formation and history is witness to why when people of good heart come together, they are more than the sum of their parts.
June 10, 1984 I joined the United Church in Confirmation and like the church, I’ve missed opportunities to follow God on times. And like the church, I’ve been so much richer for being part of my church, and the churches it has called me into love and fellowship with. I cannot thank you who support KAIROS enough for these last 6 years, for the year I worked as Middle East Partnerships Coordinator with KAIROS (under the old CIDA agreement) in 2007, a student intern in 2003-2004, as a congregation member and clergy following wonderful resources and engaging in actions with you, and before that with Ten Days. And thank you who donate to KAIROS or its Members who support KAIROS – my monthly PAR donation to KAIROS is something we take seriously- but it would be next to meaningless without all of those other gifts and donations.
On June 10th this year, through blessed coincidence, my oldest son will be confirmed. I hope for him that he comes to know deeply the God of the Psalmist for this week’s lectionary reading. I hope he is able to give thanks with his whole heart, for a thankful heart is a happy heart. I hope he feels God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, for one who knows God’s love is never alone. I hope when he walks in trouble, or others, his Indigenous cousins, women in the global south, or those suffering the impacts of climate change, that he feels God’s right hand, and that the opportunity remains through KAIROS and other places, to BE God’s right hand, and to deliver to those in need.
This UCC anniversary, whether you’re United Church or not, join us in a prayer that we all may be one in solidarity, in fateful action, in humility before God and in love and compassion for each other. We are so much richer together. And let us join in the emerging church through movements including KAIROS, so that for new Christians like my son we continue to build a living faith for the 21st century.
Desmond Jagger-Parsons (Reverend) is a United Church minister and works as a lawyer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador. As the United Church of Canada’s elected representative for the past six years on the Steering Committee (formerly Board of Directors), KAIROS is very grateful for Desmond’s contributions, dedication and service.